Conservative activists and politicians are demanding answers after an early-morning raid conducted by FBI agents on the home of Mark Houck, a pro-life activist, sidewalk counselor, and father of seven children.
Houck is the co-founder and president of The King’s Men, a Catholic ministry that promotes virtue among young men, focusing in particular on fighting the scourge of pornography.
According to Houck, he and his wife woke up at 7am on Friday, September 23 to find over a dozen FBI vehicles and dozens of heavily armed FBI agents in their yard. After surrounding the house, says Houck, “they started pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it.”
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSiteNews that her husband tried to get the agents to calm down, as they were frightening the children. “Please, I’m going to open the door, but, please, my children are in the home,” she said he told them. “I have seven babies in the house.”
“But,” she added, “they just kept pounding and screaming.”
Once they opened the door, the armed agents explained that they were arresting Houck, which they did, taking him away in handcuffs.
A Minor Altercation
This bizarre and troubling show of force was apparently related to an altercation that happened between Houck and a Planned Parenthood abortion facility escort in 2021.
In Houck’s telling, the altercation occurred on a day when he had taken his then-12-year-old son with him to the abortion facility, where Houck sought to counsel women seeking abortions.
According to Houck, Bruce Love, a 72-year-old volunteer at the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood, began aggressively verbally harassing his son, using “crude…inappropriate and disgusting” language. In the end, when Love refused to stop harassing his son, Houck pushed him. Love then fell to the ground, without suffering any injuries.
In the end, the Philadelphia DA refused to present charges in the case, despite the fact (as Houck’s lawyer, Peter Breen, notes) that the DA is no friend of pro-lifers.
Somehow, however, it seems that this minor case ended up in the hands of the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ). The warrant that resulted in the raid charges Houck with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act), a Clinton-era law that bans certain activities outside abortion facilities.
“[T]he local court system, which if there were a crime committed on that sidewalk, would have dealt with it. They said, ‘No,’” Breen explained recently in an interview with Tucker Carlson. “That is where this matter should have ended.”
“This was not a federal crime. We have controlling case law on that. Strong defenses. But instead, they’ve taken an innocent man and made an example out of him, presumably to send a message to pro-life people and people of faith across this country.”
Houck’s Children Traumatized
Meanwhile, Mark’s wife Ryan-Marie Houck told Carlson about the trauma of waking up to banging on the door and being confronted with dozens of heavily armed men surrounding their house. The experience, she said, was “devastating.”
“It’s hard to even express the victimization and, you know, how traumatized we all are due to this unnecessary thing that happened to us,” she said.
Mrs. Houck described “at least 15 big trucks and cars” and some “20, 25, 30 men, women, completely in jackets with shields and helmets and guns” in the yard.
Her young children were understandably shaken by the experience, which ended with their father being handcuffed, placed in a police vehicle, and whisked away.
“The older ones, we can talk, we can cry. We’ve, you know, we’ve had some counseling. We have some more counseling to do,” Mrs. Houck told Tucker. “And the little ones, they’re scared. They’re scared. There’s a lot of crying and a lot of unrestful sleep. A lot of kids in our bed at night and in the morning.”
Lawyers: Raid Completely Unnecessary
Breen, Houck’s attorney, says he is at a complete loss as to why the FBI would have chosen to bring such firepower into play in relation to such a minor case.
Breen noted that he had already communicated with the FBI, offering to bring Houck in. In other words, the raid was completely pointless, and could have been entirely avoided had the FBI simply taken Breen and Houck up on their offer to surrender voluntarily.
However, Breen noted, they “didn’t get a response” to their offer. “Even if you’re going to arrest a regular person, you just send a couple of agents and they knock on the door. Not dragging the head of the family out, violating the sanctity of the home, pointing guns at them.”
“What in the world would possess the Department of Justice to send 20 or so heavily armed agents to this family’s home, violate the sanctity of that home, frighten the children and then drag their father away instead of allowing us to present him peacefully, which we had offered to do?” the lawyer asked. The raid “put officers’ lives in danger. It put the Houck family in danger. And it was an utter waste of judicial resources and taxpayer resources.”
Ultimately, Breen said, the only plausible answer is that, “This is a political prosecution.”
“And what’s clear from the Department of Justice at its highest levels, which is directing this case, [is] that they are trying to send a message to pro-life and people of faith: ‘Don’t mess with us.’ They want to intimidate — they want to cause good people like Mark to stop praying and counseling at the abortion clinics of our country. And that’s not going to happen.”
Lawmakers Demand Answers
A few days ago, 22 members of Congress issued a letter demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“As you know, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is once again in the national headlines following another raid of an American citizen,” they wrote. “This time, of Mark Houck, a father of seven, a noted Catholic, and a pro-life activist.”
“There is much to learn about the extent of the FBI’s operations in this case, especially since state-level assault charges were apparently dismissed by local authorities in Philadelphia,” noted the lawmakers.
“Surely, the FBI must have an extraordinary reason for showing up at the home of an American family, allegedly with roughly 25 heavily armed federal agents, and arresting a father in front of his seven children. At the moment, it appears to be an extraordinary overreach for political ends.”
“We request an explanation for the excessive level of force used by the FBI in this case, and why the power of federal law enforcement was once again used against an American citizen in what should be a state and local matter.”
A Disturbing Trend
In the meantime, Houck has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges of violating the FACE Act. He has been released on $10,000 bail and was ordered to surrender and/or refrain from obtaining either a passport or firearms.
The shocking nature of the raid has fortunately captured national attention. Concerned individuals have so far donated over $350,000 to a fund to help Houck and his family with legal bills.
However, as pro-life activists have noted, the raid on Houck’s home seems to be part of a trend in which the Biden administration’s DOJ has used excessive force to intimidate pro-life activists. For instance, in March, the FBI conducted raids on 10 pro-life activists who had entered an abortion facility two years previously.
Disturbing video of one of those raids shows officers entering a home at night, with guns drawn, yelling at the residents to get on their knees. As one pro-life priest noted after that raid, “[I]f the pro-life rescue took place in 2020, why did the FBI wait until 2022 to raid their homes?”
A good question. The obvious answer is that the country is now governed by a different administration. In other words, political forces are weaponizing police powers to persecute their ideological foes. And that is something that should deeply disturb us all.
Persecution, ridicule, injustice, and suffering are not new to pro-lifers in the U.S., but since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in June, we have experienced a steady increase in violence against pro-lifers and pro-life institutions from the anti-life industry and government that supports it. We are also experiencing a dual standard of justice and law enforcement in the U.S. There is vigorous protection for progressives and institutions that advocate for abortion (and anti-life ideologies), while there is a permissive attitude and general acceptance of threats and violence – or a blind-eye approach – aimed at conservatives, pro-life advocates, and traditional institutions (i.e., the Catholic Church, pregnancy care centers, etc.).
This mindset and situation should cause each of us grave concern, prompting us immediately to contact our regional, state, and federal leaders to boldly express our rejection of such behavior and injustice; these actions and their accompanying mindset must be unequivocally condemned, rejected, and fought against.
Please join me in praying for healing in our nation, and for Mark Houck and his family, as well as for his lawyers, as they seek to redress this flagrant injustice.